Baptism by Fire (by Storm)

Chapter 4:

Adam approached the students standing in a group. He’d been here a week and this was the first day of classes and he hoped to make some friends. Back in Nevada it was pretty easy for Adam to do that.

The group of young men watched the new kid approach and decided to do as they did with any new kid, especially one that made them feel inferior without even trying.

“So you’re the new student.”

Adam looked to his left. “Yes, I’m Adam Cartwright,”

“Hello Cartwright. We hear you’re from Nevada.”

Now Adam‘s attention was drawn to his right. “Yes I am.”

“Is that even a state?”

Adam could hear the snickering and he directed his attention to the student standing directly in front of him. “Not yet.”

“If it ever is. I mean who could picture a state with a name like Nevada. Is that some kind of an Indian word?”


Adam looked to his right. “No it’s Spanish, it is it means snow-covered.“

“Well how quaint.”

As he watched them walk away Adam didn’t know if their words made him feel more angry or more hurt and out of place. Maybe he didn’t belong here and never would.


Quentin had watched this kid try to talk to so many of his classmates that he began to feel sorry for him. So what if he were a freshman. There were no written law saying as an upper classman he couldn’t be his friend. Quentin liked the kid’s tenacity. “Hey, don’t let them get to you. They’re only jealous.”

Adam was a little wary. It was bad enough being talked down to by his peers; now this upper classman seemed to want his chance as well. “Of me?”

“Sure you were only here two days when every single pretty girl made it her business to find out who you were and learn every bit of information they could about you.”


“Well don’t you look truly graveled.” Quentin swore the kid really hadn’t noticed the girls eyeing him from every corner and hidden doorway in town.

“Graveled?” Oh great another word he didn’t know. He’d had them thrown at him so much lately that he vowed to read and memorize a page from the dictionary every night, but at the rate he was going he might not even make it out of the A’s before he finished the first semester.

Quentin smiled. “Yes graveled. It means perplexed and you really seem to be that. You mean to say you haven’t had ‘chance’ encounters with some young and pretty ladies.”

“Well sure but they were just by chance.”

“Come on Adam. Don’t tell me you don’t attract your fair share of girls in Nevada.”

“I suppose I do it’s just there a man’s fair share is about two.”

“Oh, not too many girls there?”

“Not too many, leastways not the kind you want to attract for too long. Let’s just say the bold girls definitely out number the shy ones; even the ones pretending to be shy.”

“Yes, I suppose here that is quite common. People pretending to be what they are not in order to win someone’s approval. All I ask is that you give it a chance and don’t judge us all by them. By the way, my name is Quentin Moss.”

“I’m Adam…”

“Cartwright. Yes I know. I heard it from my kid sister.”

“I see. So is that why you’re talking to me? Your sister put you up to it?”

“Yes and no. I’ve been curious about you for a while now. My sister’s request just gave me an excuse to talk to you.”

“You didn’t need an excuse.”

“No I’m finding that out. You know Cartwright, I think I might like you.”

“You’d be the first to admit it.”

“Just the first male to admit it.”


Adam sat down to write his first letter home since he’d arrived. He had waited this long because he knew if he had written any sooner the letter would have been filled with more pleas to go home than his father could have borne.

Dear Pa,

I know you’re probably wondering why I’ve taken so long to write this letter, and I’m sorry that it has, but truth is if I had written any sooner I would have arrived home before it did.

When I first arrived I definitely felt out of place and homesick. I mean they used words I’ve never heard of before. Words like cavil and obloquy. I started believing I would never fit in here. Then I met someone who told me to give it a chance. He’s been a good friend to me pa. His name is Quentin Moss and something he said got me thinking on something Kit once told to me. It was something about not caring what other’s opinions of you were. That as long as you were true to yourself and treated everyone fairly you could never go wrong. Kit said to try and please everyone would only lead to confusion because no two people liked the same thing so you could never remember who you were with each different person so you just had to be yourself because that was one person you could never forget how to be. He was right because once I stopped trying to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be I made some friends. It may not be a lot but each and every one is a true friend who likes me for who I am. Sure there are times I wish some of the other guys would give me a chance but I know I can’t force them to so I’ve stopped trying. I just say to myself what I know you would say to me Pa; they don’t know what they’re missing.

Well that’s enough palaver, so I’ve skipped around some on the pages, I’ve some lessons to finish. I’m meeting up with Quentin and his girl. He’s going to bring his sister along. You know Pa, she turned out to be one of the prettiest girls around these parts.

Give my love to Hoss and Little Joe. Tell Hop-Sing I miss him and his cooking.

Love your son



Ben put the letter down and turned his attention to his two youngest sons.

“Pa, what do those words mean?”

“Which ones Little Joe?”

“The ones Adam didn’t know?” Joe didn’t believe there was anything Adam didn’t know.

“You mean cavil and obloquy?”

“Yeah Pa, and that other one that Adam wrote.”

“Which other one Hoss?”


“Well I believe cavil means to nitpick and obloquy is malicious gossip.”

“And palaver Pa?”

“Palaver, Hoss, means useless talking.”


“Hey Pa.”

“Yes Little Joe.”

“This means you’re smarter than Adam ’cause you knew what those words meant without havin’ to look them up and Adam didn’t.”

“Yes Joseph I suppose it does. Now why don’t you two go get washed up.”

Ben wasn’t about to confess he had read Adam’s letter before his sons had come home from school and had looked up those words not having known their meaning himself. Ben was afraid when Adam did come home he would indeed be smarter than his father. He only hoped his eldest son would still need him.

Other Stories by this Author


No account yet? Register

Author: storm

1 thought on “Baptism by Fire (by Storm)

  1. Excellent story with characterizations of Adam, Ben, and Marie that help understand not only their behavior but their relationships too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.